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Royal Caribbean Post Round-Up: August 28, 2022

28 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

Welcome to this week's edition of the Royal Caribbean post round-up, where we summarize all of the Royal Caribbean news and information from this week into one handy-dandy post! There is plenty of great content to enjoy, so sit back, relax, and enjoy this week's round-up!

Royal Caribbean updated its Covid protocols this week to allow unvaccinated cruisers onboard most of its ships.

Oasis of the Seas in New York with Statue of Liberty

Beginning September 5, all travelers, regardless of vaccination status, can cruise on the following itineraries, as long as they meet testing requirements to board.

This includes cruises that sail from any Florida homeport, as well as Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, and most European cities.

While vaccination is not required, Royal Caribbean kindly asks all guests to disclose their status during check-in to ensure they maintain a highly vaccinated onboard population.

Royal Caribbean News

Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

The 466th episode of the Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast is now available, where Rebecca reviews her Quantum of the Seas Alaska cruise.

Quantum of the Seas gets lost in the shuffle of Alaska cruises to consider, so Rebecca talked about her recent sailing on Quantum.

Please feel free to subscribe via iTunes or RSS, and head over to rate and review the podcast on iTunes if you can! We’d appreciate it.

Video: All the LEVELS & PERKS of Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society!

Have you subscribed to the Royal Caribbean Blog YouTube Channel? We share some great videos there regularly, all about taking a Royal Caribbean cruise! This week, we are sharing our latest video: All the LEVELS & PERKS of Royal Caribbean Crown and Anchor Society!

Exclusive Icon of the Seas aerial photos

We have a new batch of Icon of the Seas construction photos to share from the shipyard.

RoyalCaribbeanBlog commissioned its own aerial drone photos to share what we can see so far from the shipyard.

These photos were taken earlier this week, and show off the progress being made on a ship we still largely know little about.

Royal Caribbean will increase gratuities

Beginning September 7, the daily gratuity rate is going up.

Royal Caribbean will charge guests in non-suite staterooms $16 per person, per day. Guests in suites will be charged $18.50 per day.

This is the first gratuity rate change in well over 4 years. The daily gratuities are shared among dining, bar & culinary services staff, stateroom attendants and other hotel services teams who work behind the scenes.

Allure of the Seas is the last Oasis Class ship with some classic features

Allure of the Seas

Because Allure of the Seas did not get a Royal Amplification yet, she remains the last Oasis Class ship with amenities and venues that have since been removed on other ships.

In the meantime, guests can enjoy a few classic features you either can’t find on the others or are slowly being phased out.

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 2 - Sea Day

28 Aug 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

Today is the second day of my 7-night Alaska cruise on Radiance of the Seas and we are enjoying a sea day as we travel from Vancouver to Alaska's Inside Passage.

This morning I tried to do something I very rarely do: sleep in! I'm a morning person and love having a quiet ship to myself in the early hours of the day, but I definitely needed to catch up on sleep after two busy days of travel.

That being said, I woke up this morning to the alarm someone set at 8AM in the room next to me! That's definitely a first on a Royal Caribbean ship.

We ate breakfast at the outdoor seating area in the Windjammer. Because the outdoor seating at the buffet is only found on a few Royal Caribbean ships, I'm trying to take advantage of it as much as I can.

Side note: If you haven't tried French toast topped with whipped cream and chocolate morsels from the Windjammer, you're missing out!

The weather was quite dreary today, so Reeham and I hung out near the windows at the champagne bar and looked for whales. Unfortunately we did not see any, although some passengers mentioned they saw a few whales from the ship earlier in the day!

The second day of an Alaska cruise heading north from Seattle or Vancouver is a sea day in more open waters, so it is the least scenic day of the cruise itinerary. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with a panoramic ocean view, but I'm definitely eager to see Alaska's mountain landscapes tomorrow!

A relaxing afternoon

Lunch in the Main Dining Room is available on sea days, and with today's chilly weather and relaxing atmosphere, having a nice sit-down lunch seemed like the perfect way to start the afternoon.

We started the meal with salads and had butternut squash risotto for the main course, which far exceeded my expectations. It may not be the most appealing dish out there from a visual standpoint... but the risotto was one of the best courses I've had in the Main Dining Room yet!

After lunch, I decided to experience one of the unique features found only on Radiance Class ships, the Cinema!

Radiance Class ships have a complimentary movie theater onboard, and I loved it! While other ships show movies in the theater or on the pool deck, watching a movie in a cinema is a much better atmosphere. I'm hoping to visit the cinema a few more times on this cruise as it makes for a perfect cold weather activity.

Each day has a different movie playing, and there are showtimes roughly every 3 hours during the day. The only thing missing was popcorn!

Following the movie was a round of Friends trivia at Schooner Bar. Schooner Bar on Radiance of the Seas is huge! It was packed throughout the day... a little too crowded for my liking! When the weather is so cold outside, the indoor spaces always feel way more crowded.

We also stumbled across the Quill & Compass Pub. I didn't even realize there was a pub on Radiance of the Seas until I stumbled across it, as it's tucked in a weird location between the casino and theater. The pub is dimly lit and without windows, which doesn't totally match the theme of the Radiance Class!

The next two hours or so were spent relaxing in our stateroom. I haven't spent much time at all in our cabin because there are so many other nice places to hang out onboard. I'm happy with the decision to book an interior stateroom instead of a balcony considering we've spent minimal time in the cabin.

Evening onboard

Because we had eaten in the Main Dining Room for lunch, we decided to dine at the Windjammer for dinner. Tonight's dinner theme was Mediterranean and it was really impressive! From hummus to falafel, pita, fish, and baba ghanoush, I really enjoyed the meal.

I think the Windjammer is totally underrated for dinner compared to the Main Dining Room. I actually tend to prefer the buffet because of the wide range of options available and specialty cuisines from around the world each night.

The Windjammer was eerily empty tonight! I've never seen so few people there for dinner, but I suppose most guests went to formal night in the Main Dining Room.

Following dinner, I went for a walk several times around the outdoor Promenade deck. The weather had not improved much throughout the day, although I was grateful for calm waters.

The wind was insane whenever I lapped around the helicopter pad! I always feel like the crew members in the bridge are looking down and laughing at the passengers crazy enough to venture to the helipad with 20mph winds.

My last stop for the night was to the Aurora Theater for the production show of Piano Man. I usually avoid shows in the theater (aside from Broadway shows) as I feel they are rarely geared toward my age demographic, but I decided to give it a try.

The show had singing and dancing to the tunes of Elton John, Billy Joel, and Barry Manilow. The performers were talented and the music was certainly catchy, but I can't seem to get interested in the shows in the theater as much as live music elsewhere onboard or the more unique shows found in venues like Studio B and the AquaTheater on other Royal Caribbean ships.

The show ended around 9:15 and I headed back to my stateroom to finish this blog before calling it a night. As I went to bed, I noticed the ship rocking way more than earlier in the day. Luckily we'll be in the Inside Passage tomorrow where we should (hopefully) encounter calmer seas!

Tomorrow we arrive in Juneau at 1PM and I am looking forward to the first day of exploring Alaska!

Radiance of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation in Vancouver

27 Aug 2022
Jenna DeLaurentis

The first day of a cruise is always exciting, but it's even more anticipated when you're about to board a cruise to Alaska!

Today is the first day of my one-way, 7-night cruise from Vancouver, Canada to Seward, Alaska on Radiance of the Seas, and I'm looking forward to an amazing week ahead.

Alaska is one of the most scenic places to visit in the world, and I can't wait to sail through the state's inside passage and experience several ports I have not been to yet, including Sitka, Icy Strait Point, and Hubbard Glacier.

Arrival in Vancouver

I arrived in Vancouver yesterday morning at 11AM, so I had a full 24 hours to explore the city prior to boarding Radiance of the Seas.

Vancouver's walkable downtown area makes it a breeze to explore on foot before a cruise. Getting to the city center from the airport was only $10 via Vancouver's metro, which dropped me off right in the city center.

I booked the Blue Horizon Hotel for my night in the city and was pleased with the hotel's location, price, and amenities. The views from my room were fantastic as well!

After 24 hours of delicious food, a peaceful walk through Stanley Park, trying out Tim Horton's, and relaxing near Vancouver's waterfront, it was time to head to the cruise terminal.

Embarkation in Vancouver and first impressions

Canada Place is the name of Vancouver's cruise port, and it is conveniently located on the waterfront in the heart of downtown. Walking to the port from our hotel took only 15 minutes.

Embarkation was seamless and we were quickly boarding the ship. While we arrived at our scheduled boarding time of 11:30, no one was checking boarding times.

This is my first time on a Radiance Class ship, so I've now officially sailed on every class of Royal Caribbean cruise ships! My first impressions of Radiance of the Seas were that the ship has tons of windows and viewing areas onboard.

I have noticed that certain areas of the ship feel a little more cramped and closed off in its design compared to other classes of ships, even the Vision Class, but this could just be a result of the hectic atmosphere of embarkation day.

Related: Royal Caribbean ship classes guide & explanation

We headed to the Windjammer once onboard for our embarkation day lunch. Radiance Class ships, like some Quantum Class ships, have an outdoor seating area in the Windjammer, so we took full advantage of British Columbia's beautiful views while enjoying our meal.

We also put our binoculars to the test to look at Vancouver. I can't wait to use these throughout this cruise! Having binoculars on an Alaska cruise is a must.

I'm never sure what to do in the time period between lunch and my stateroom being ready, so after our binocular extravaganza we waited in comfy chairs on our cabin's deck for the staterooms to open.

We are staying in an interior room for this cruise. The room is the same size as most other interior cabins I've stayed in and appears well-maintained. Our beds were separated when we entered the cabin, and this was well-appreciated so we didn't have to track down our stateroom attendant!

The walls in the cabin seem pretty thin, though, as I could hear the TV in the room next to ours, but this is to be expected on an older ship. Other than that, everything in our stateroom is up to par.

After a quick rest in the room, I decided to try something different and take the spa tour with the selfish goal of winning the spa raffle later in the day. The tour was actually relatively enjoyable (to my surprise) and like the rest of Radiance of the Seas, the spa has wonderful ocean views.

After a quick rest in the cabin, Reeham and I headed to the spa raffle before sailaway. While mostly a sales pitch, it was entertaining enough to pass the time even if I didn't win.

Sailaway and evening activities

Reeham and I headed aft as Radiance of the Seas departed Canada Place en route to Alaska. Sailing out of Vancouver was beautiful, and my favorite part was definitely passing under the Lions Gate Bridge!  It was an unforgettable way to say goodbye to Vancouver and start the journey up north.

We enjoyed dinner tonight in the Main Dining Room, and I was happy to find out that our table is near a window, so we'll never be too far from Alaska's gorgeous scenery.

We enjoyed arancini, French onion soup, battered seafood, and the warm hazelnut chocolate cake. I had never seen the arancini on the Main Dining Room menu and was impressed!

Following dinner was a walk around the outdoor Promenade deck, my favorite spot on any Vision, Radiance, Voyager, or Freedom Class ship. We ventured all the way forward to the helipad, too, which offered a tranquil spot to take in the views.

Reeham and I were pretty tired after waking up early to explore Vancouver, boarding the ship, and having a full day of fun onboard, so we crashed in our stateroom pretty early.

Tomorrow is a sea day and I'm excited to explore more of Radiance of the Seas as we make our way to Alaska!

Aerial photos show Icon of the Seas cruise ship construction progress

26 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

While Royal Caribbean has been quiet about what Icon of the Seas will look like when completed, we have our own construction photos to share of the progress.

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from August 2022

Icon of the Seas is the next new cruise ship Royal Caribbean is building, and it's a brand new class of cruise ship. This means we don't yet know any details about the features or activities offered onboard, or even what the ship design looks like.

Royal Caribbean has been keeping the entire project as secretive as possible up to now in order to maintain a competitive edge, as well as to likely drum up intrigue among cruise fans eager to know more.

While we wait for an official update from Royal Caribbean, RoyalCaribbeanBlog comissioned its own aerial drone photos to share what we can see so far from the shipyard.

Since these are exclusive photos, please do not share these photos on social media.

Construction of Icon of the Seas began in June 2021 with a steel cutting ceremony at the Meyer Turku shipyard in Finland.

Icon of the Seas is being built behind the new Carnival Celebration cruise ship.

These photos were taken earlier this week, and you can see the bottom half of the hull is mostly there, with just the bow missing.

Icon already has a baby blue hull color to it, which has been a design change Royal Caribbean has been steadily making with its newer ships.  Instead of a plain white hull color, new ships are debuting with a light blue hue to it.

In a slightly elevated aerial view, we can see there are at least three open air sections visible.

Read more3 hints what Icon of the Seas could look like

Icon of the Seas construction aerial photo from August 2022

The Oasis Class ships first introduced the idea of open parts of the ship for the Boardwalk and Central Park neighborhoods. 

Whether Icon has its own Boardwalk and Central Park, or Royal Caribbean is developing a new concept, remains unknown.

A view of the rear of the ship shows an opening at the end of Icon that could be theater of some kind at the very bottom.

We also have a better look at one of the open air sections, which certainly mirrors the Boardwalk general layout.

The ship's name is not yet painted onto the back of the hull.

It also appears the shipyard is working on what is likely a feature for the front of Icon of the Seas. 

While we don't yet know what this is, the overall design reminds me of the glass enclosure that sits atop of the Solarium on the front of other Royal Caribbean cruise ships.

The Solarium glass for Wonder of the Seas seems to have a similar look to it.

Much of the middle of the ship will be the future home for stateroom balconies.

You'll notice most of the cabins are still wrapped up. Cruise ship cabins are assembled elsewhere and then inserted into the ship later as a more efficient construction method.

Some of the balconies towards the rear of the ship are unwrapped, which provide a glimpse of what to expect elsewhere.

Icon of the Seas is scheduled to start sailing in late 2023.

It's not quite clear yet when exactly Royal Caribbean intends to reveal the look of the ship, but earlier this summer, Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley hinted at September 2022.

One other key detail about Icon of the Seas is it could be bigger than the Oasis Class ships.

Senior Vice President of Hotel Operations, Sean Treacy, said in May 2022 that Icon of the Seas will be larger than the Oasis class cruise ships.

What you need to know about Royal Caribbean accepting self-administered Covid tests

26 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

In addition to allowing unvaccinated cruisers back onboard cruise ships, Royal Caribbean will also begin accepting self-administered Covid tests that don't have to be proctored.

Royal Caribbean was one of the first cruise lines to allow at-home Covid tests to be used, but up until now they had to be supervised by a health professional.

Beginning September 5, Royal Caribbean will allow guests on U.S. cruises the choice of taking a home test or a test professionally administered by a health professional.

At-home test

Before you grab the inexpensive home tests to use, there are some important considerations and exceptions you should be aware of.

Who needs to test?

Whether or not you'll need to take a covid test before your cruise depends on the port your ship sails from, vaccination status, and date you sail.

Royal Caribbean maintains a master list of requirements on their website, which you should refer to prior to your cruise.  

Below you'll find a look at testing requirements for the major itineraries that Royal Caribbean sails.

Mariner of the Seas back of the ship

If your cruise departs before September 4, 2022 U.S. Home Ports with no stops in Bermuda or Canada:

Guests 2 to 11 years of age who are not fully vaccinated must bring a negative test result for a Covid antigen or PCR test taken within the 3 days before boarding day, regardless of the duration of their cruise. 

Fully vaccinated guests must bring a negative test result for a Covid antigen or PCR test taken within the 3 days before boarding day on sailings that are 6 nights or longer only. 

Fully vaccinated guests do not need to test at all on cruises 5-nights or less.

Independence of the Seas at sunset at sea

If your cruise departs on or after September 5, 2022 U.S. Home Ports with no stops in Bermuda or Canada:

Guests 5 years of age and older who are not fully vaccinated must bring a negative test result for a Covid antigen or PCR test taken within the 3 days before boarding day, regardless of the duration of their cruise.

Guests younger than 5 do not have any testing requirements.

Fully vaccinated guests 5 years of age and older must bring a negative test result for a Covid antigen or PCR test taken within the 3 days before boarding day on sailings that are 10 nights or longer only. 

Fully vaccinated guests do not need to test at all on cruises 9-nights or less.

St. John`s Harbour, Newfoundland

If your cruise has any stops in Bermuda or Canada:

Vaccinated guests must show a negative test result for a supervised PCR or antigen test taken no more than 2 days before boarding day. 

Unvaccinated kids age 2 to 11 must show a negative test result for a supervised PCR test (not antigen) taken no more than 3 days before boarding day.

Guests under 2 years of age do not need to complete a pre-cruise test.

Royal Caribbean ship in Copenhagen, Denmark

If your cruise departs on or after September 5, 2022 from England and the Netherlands:

Guests 12 years of age and older who are not vaccinated or not up to date with their vaccination, must bring a negative test result for a Covid antigen test taken within 24 hours before boarding day, or PCR test taken within 72 hours before boarding day, regardless of the duration of their cruise. 

Guests who are up to date with their vaccination status must bring a negative test result for a Covid antigen test taken within 24 hours before boarding day, or PCR test taken within 72 hours before boarding day, on sailings that are 10 nights or longer only. Testing is not required for up to date guests on shorter itineraries. 

Guests younger than 12 do not have any testing requirements.

Which telehealth test at home can I use for my cruise?

I tried the at-home Covid-19 test that Royal Caribbean accepts | Royal Caribbean Blog

Required testing for all guests, regardless of vaccination status, can be completed using any type of PCR or antigen test. 

Tests must be arranged on your own and are at your own expense.

Royal Caribbean will begin offering consecutive cruisers at-home Covid tests | Royal Caribbean Blog

If your cruise departs before September 4, 2022 U.S. Home Ports with no stops in Bermuda or Canada:

The At-home tests must happen under live supervision on a video call with a telehealth representative.

The telehealth provider must issue you a result document that includes all the necessary information.

If your cruise departs on or after September 5, 2022 U.S. Home Ports with no stops in Bermuda or Canada:

The test you take can be professionally administered by a health professional, such as a doctor or pharmacist, or you can use a home test kit.

Home test kits for these sailings are not required to be administered under live video supervision.

If your cruise visits Canada:

Unvaccinated guests cannot use a telehealth test if their cruise visits Canada.

If your cruise departs on or after September 5, 2022 from Europe with no stops in Greece:

The test you take can be professionally administered by a health professional, such as a doctor or pharmacist, or you can use a home test kit. Home test kits for these sailings are not required to be administered under live video supervision. 

Telehealth tests and self test kits are not accepted if your cruise departs from Athens. 

What you need to bring to the cruise terminal at check-in

Covid test result

Regardless of the type of test you take, you'll need to bring with you proof of a negative test result.

If your cruise departs before September 4, 2022 U.S. Home Ports with no stops in Bermuda or Canada:

You must receive a valid results document from your test provider that includes the name of the lab that processed the test, the lab’s CLIA Lab Number or Certification Number, the address of the lab, your name, the date the test was taken, type of test, and your negative result. 

 This can be a printed document, email, or telehealth app notification that you show on your phone.

Fully handwritten doctor’s notes (such as those written on a prescription pad) will not be accepted.

Minimal handwritten components (such as a check mark on a “negative” box) are acceptable as long as the other required information is printed on the document.

If your cruise departs on or after September 5, 2022 U.S. Home Ports with no stops in Bermuda or Canada:

You can show it in the form of a printout, an email, or an app screen from the test provider. Or you can show a picture of your negative home test on your phone, or present the actual negative test itself.

Rhapsody of the Seas sailing away in Haifa, Israel

If your cruise departs on or after September 5, 2022 from Europe with no stops in Greece:

You can show it in the form of a printout, an email, or an app screen from the test provider. Or you can show a picture of your negative home test on your phone, or present the actual negative test itself. 

How online cruise planning is getting easier

25 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

It's not your imagination, the Royal Caribbean website experience has been refreshed to make things hopefully just a little bit easier in getting what you want.

Royal Caribbean's website has mirrored the larger travel industry trend of trying to improve its web presence and make things easier and faster for its customers.

New cruisers looking to book a cruise are likely to find the options - 2600 rooms, a dozen decks, shows, dining - are overwhelming. It’s no wonder users skip the aging websites and try calling instead.

Ship design in app

Making its website easier is important considering that Royal Caribbean Group disclosed during an earnings call last month that every day there are "millions of interactions on our websites".

Royal Caribbean Group CEO Jason Liberty said web traffic is higher than ever, "Our websites are receiving close to double the visits compared to 2019, and we are generating record level of direct bookings."

Cruise planner results

To that point, Royal Caribbean sees opportunity with its online travel tools. Royal Caribbean International President and CEO Michael Bayley talked about the importance of enhancing its web portal, "I think, certainly, the investments that we made in our technology as it relates to getting to customers about their cruise experience and the opportunities and experiences that are available to them has proven to be successful."

"And I think that's connected and reflects the kind of the acceptance that the consumer has now at a much greater level to buy online."

"And I believe that everything that we've done with our pre-cruise marketing is really proving to be very effective."

Here's a look at some of the recent updates and enhancements Royal Caribbean has made to allow guests to book and manage their cruises with greater ease.

Making search easier

Royal Caribbean's website

Finding the perfect cruise vacation starts off with lots of possibilities, which requires the user to comb through the search results for the right option.

Royal Caribbean recently updated its cruise booking site with the goal of returning results in an easier manner.

While the search form looks the same on Royal Caribbean's homepage, the results come through a new simpler layout that is not only easier to use on a mobile device, but provide filtering options with less clicks.

Search results

The search results are in a cleaner layout with less "fluff" around it so you can drill into the itinerary and ship you want. You'll find clear and simple messaging and pricing throughout the booking process. Visuals are important, but text is crucial.

Read moreHow do I pick the perfect first cruise?

Royal Caribbean also included advanced paths, alternate routes, and exits throughout the booking process - so that experienced users can rapidly dial in the exact cruise they want.

Search results

The new search results seem to come up some of the time, which perhaps indicates they are testing it out until it's ready to fully replace the legacy search results. 

Upgraded cruise planner

Just as important to Royal Caribbean's bottom line as someone booking a cruise is someone booking a cruise add-on.

According to Royal Caribbean Group executives, every dollar a guest spends before the voyage, translates into about $0.70 more on the dollar when they sail and double the overall spending compared to other guests.

This year, guests are spending 30% more across all categories of pre-cruise spend than they did in 2019 before the pandemic.

It certainly is easier for guests to buy a drink package, wifi, or shore excursion if the website is simpler.

In early 2021, Royal Caribbean began rolling out a new look to its cruise planner tool.

Dubbed, "My Royal Cruise", it has slowly replaced the old Cruise Planner site where guests can browse the various add-ons for their sailing.

Read moreEverything you should book before the cruise to avoid it being sold out

The goal for this refresh was to make it more intuitive for guests to plan their sailing.

My Royal Cruise features a cleaner look, which takes advantage of contemporary web design.  It is simple and functional, while still visually appealing.

Moreover, returning guests have more of their personal information saved so purchases can be completed significantly faster than with the old site that required the user to enter all their information in over and over for each transaction.

App upgrades

Royal Caribbean app

Royal Caribbean's app has evolved from "nice to have" to "essential" since cruises restarted in June 2021.

For most cruises, scanning your passport and uploading a security photo will generate a mobile boarding pass that’s going to help make for a better experience at the terminal.

You can then choose your arrival time from a list of staggered options so you know what time to arrive.

The new eMuster process has also been rolled into the app, which allows you to start the mandatory safety briefing even before you board.

On several ships, like Odyssey of the Seas, the app can also be your very own Digital Key to unlock your stateroom.

Once inside, you can control the TV and even stream content right from your phone. The room temperature, lights and curtains for some staterooms can also be controlled.

Book a pre-cruise hotel

Miami hotel

Because a lot of its guests were already booking a pre- or post-cruise hotel, Royal Caribbean made that option easier.

The Royal Caribbean Hotels program was launched in March of this year, and it gives cruisers an easy way to lock in a pre- or post-cruise stay.

Royal Caribbean says this new program offers exclusive rates with thousands of hotels in every Royal Caribbean departure and arrival port, including those in the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific as well as North, South and Central America.

Hotel search results can easily be filtered based on the number of travelers in your group, the sailing’s departure or arrival city, and dates — plus preferences such as hotel rating, amenities and more.

Royal Caribbean announces Singapore cruises in 2023-24

25 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean revealed new 2023-2024 sailings from Singapore on Spectrum of the Seas.

Spectrum of the Seas sunset

The year-round season brings back long cruises, offering a new mix of 5- to 12-night sailings to Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan & more.

Spectrum will also offer short cruises to Malaysia and Thailand.

The new cruises are available to book immediately.

A look at the new itineraries

15 countries you didn't know you could cruise to on Royal Caribbean | Royal Caribbean Blog

Spectrum of the Seas will offer a variety of longer cruises to Southeast Asia, including 5-, 7-, 9- and 12-night itineraries. Guests can choose from cruises that visit Bangkok, Thailand; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Manila, Philippines.

Read more15 countries you didn't know you could cruise to on Royal Caribbean

The upcoming cruises include two 12-night sailings, which mean guests can visit as many as seven destinations across three countries, all in one sailing. If you do a back-to-back cruise, then you can take advantage of a 24-night cruise to places such as Hong Kong; Tokyo, Osaka and Mount Fuji, Japan; and Nha Trang and Hue/Danang, Vietnam.


In addition, Royal Caribbean will offer short 3- and 4-night cruises that will visit Penang, Malaysia, and Phuket in Thailand.

Read moreBest Royal Caribbean itineraries with overnight ports

What makes Spectrum of the Seas different from other ships

Spectrum of the Seas arrives in first Asian port | Royal Caribbean Blog

Spectrum of the Seas is different than the other Quantum Class cruise ships in the fleet.

Royal Caribbean designed the ship to be an innovator, that offers plenty of innovations and touches of eastern culture infused with the ship.

Here are some of the major things to do on Spectrum of the Seas:

  • Asia’s first Sky Pad, a virtual reality, bungee trampoline adventure
  • Royal Caribbean’s first and exclusive Suite Enclave, which features the exquisite Royal Suite Class Star, Sky and Sea accommodations in a private area supremely positioned at the forward end of the ship. Guests booked in these luxury suites have exclusive floor access, an elevator, private restaurants, and a dedicated lounge area.
  • Cutting-edge and transformative venues such as Two70. Boasting stunning 270-degree ocean views by day and transforming into a multidimensional theater by night, this transformative space flaunts six agile Roboscreens, breathtaking live performers and mind-bending aerialists to create unimaginable visuals. 
  • Star Moment, a lively and energetic karaoke venue where family and friends can belt out and sing like stars.
  • The signature two-level Ultimate Family Suite, an expansive, multiroom retreat complete with its own ensuite slide and cinema, which also doubles as a karaoke stage.
  • A bold lineup of signature activities, including the FlowRider surf simulator, the North Star, an all-glass capsule that ascends 300 feet above the ocean to deliver incomparable 360-degree views; and RipCord by iFly, the first sky diving experience at sea.
  • Nineteen distinct dining options serve up flavors from around the world, including Hot Pot, an authentic Chinese dining experience; Teppanyaki, a celebration of authentic oriental flavors cooked in Japan’s traditional teppanyaki style; and Sichuan Red, a new specialty dining experience tailored just for Spectrum, where diners can savour a bold tapestry of authentic spices and Sichuan flavours. Signature classics include imaginative cuisine at Wonderland, top-notch, aged beef at Chops Grille, and authentic rustic fare and handmade pasta at Jamie’s Italian.

Royal Caribbean answers cruise ship special needs and accessibility questions

24 Aug 2022
Chantal McPhee

Have you every wanted to know about going on a cruise if you or someone you know has a special need?

Side of Navigator of the Seas

Today, Royal Caribbean management participated in a discussion with travel agents, answering questions relating to special needs and accessibility while cruising.  

Ronald Pettit, Royal Caribbean’s Executive Disability Inclusion & Accessibility Officer, addressed several topics along with Renee Didier, Manager of the Sales Training Team.

Pettit has been with Royal Caribbean Group for over 16 years in varying positions and has led the cruise line as an industry leader in accessible cruise vacations. In the webinar today, Pettit elaborated on a number of Royal Caribbean’s practices in making the cruise experience more accessible.  

Wheelchair accessibility on Royal Caribbean - Royal Caribbean Blog Podcast

Here are some of the questions and answers from today’s session.

How much advance notice should we provide about a disability?

Independence of the Seas aerial view birds eye

Ideally at the time of booking, but “no later than 30 days prior to sailing, except for sign language interpreting requests which must be submitted 60 days prior to sailing".

What are the steps Royal Caribbean takes to prepare for guests before coming on board?

Royal Caribbean collects and reviews all accommodation requests, working with relevant parties to prepare. C

loser to the sailing date, about 10 days beforehand, important details are disseminated to staff, such as housekeeping and dining. 

Where can you find the special needs form?

Royal Caribbean's website

The special needs form is a very important tool for anyone to use. As listed on the website, the form requires basic information, including:

  • Personal details such as name and address
  • What accommodations are requested
  • If an accessible stateroom is required
  • Accessible hotel room pre or post-cruise
  • Any equipment that needs to be brought on board
  • Dietary request
  • Accessible shore excursion
  • Any other request

The website notes that information provided on the form will be shared with only those who need it, such as crew members, housekeeping staff, and third parties, including ground transportation staff or shore excursions where required.

How can I get assistance with embarkation and disembarkation?

Photos: Royal Caribbean provides hurricane relief to people of Caribbean | Royal Caribbean Blog

The cruise line does provide a wheelchair and assistance in navigating the terminal and getting on the ship. Asking the day of can be an issue, as the information is collected and organized days in advance.

Pettit did note that staff does their best to make sure wheelchairs are available when needed, and organizing various boarding times is part of this process. Sometimes patience is required, though.

While onboard the cruise, scooters and wheelchairs are not provided unless it is a medical emergency. Royal Caribbean does work with companies that can provide mobility options that can be rented for the duration of the cruise and even delivered right to the guest’s cabin.

What can be done for guests with food allergies or dietary restrictions?

Windjammer food on a plate

Pettit noted that dietary restrictions and allergies are the second biggest request after pier assistance. Royal Caribbean is very experienced in dealing with common needs such as gluten, dairy and lactose-free foods, which he noted are well highlighted on menus. However, there are less common allergies that can be problematic for guests.

He advised cruisers can request the following evening's menu with modifications.

What type of options do we have on board for those individuals with autism?

Royal Caribbean is known to be first autism friendly cruise line in the world, partnering with Autism on the Seas, which helps them with specific products and services, including sensory friendly movies, an autism channel, a social storybook to name a few.

 In addressing this, Pettit explained that there is lots of programming that can be offered on board the ship, and literally, they can make any of them accessible.

Read moreHow one group helps families with Autism cruise on Royal Caribbean

Can guests bring a service dog on a cruise ship?

When asked if service dogs are permitted onboard, the answer was an emphatic yes, with Pettit going on to discuss the critical, evolving role of service dogs play,  adding they do many things:  “Service dogs help retrieve object, alert people that somebody is at the door there now, medical alert dogs that help people to detect if they're going to have a seizure or to take their medication.

He did clarify that service dogs have been specifically trained to perform a very specific function or take to help a person with a disability, different than a therapy dog who may not qualify under the ADA as a service dog. 

Are there sharp containers and fridges for diabetics?

Sharps container

Yes, Royal Caribbean does provide these in the stateroom, and Pettit advised the need to clearly identify specific requirements.

For example, not all diabetes medicine needs to be refrigerated.  

If a guest needs oxygen, can Royal Caribbean provide it onboard?


Royal Caribbean does not provide oxygen for their cruise; it is only available for emergencies, so guests need to make their own arrangements in this regard.

He noted the advancements that have led to the portable oxygen concentrator that helps convert ambient air into on0demand oxygen, which may be of benefit to some passengers.

If a guest needs dialysis, can they sail with Royal Caribbean?

Suite living room

Guests who can bring their machines and do self-administered dialysis are welcome to sail, and this has been happening for decades.

Royal Caribbean is unable to provide medically supervised hemodialysis; however, some guests have been using self-administered NxStage equipment, which which are permissible.

Guests can book through Dialysis at Sea (

Are there accessible shore excursions available?

Family on the beach

Discussing accessible short excursions, Pettit describes his team's effort, "I have a small six seven member team that deals exclusively with accessible shore excursions, which are akin to a concierge service."

"They work in various ports of call with tour operators to provide guests with what they are looking for. This is also why it is key to communicate well heard of time."

Are Royal Caribbean's private islands accessible?

Perfect Day at CocoCay seen from ship

Yes, they are, and Pettit elaborated that both Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas and Labadee in Haiti have a good amount of access with hard pathways throughout the island, accessible trams,  beach wheelchairs to navigate the sand, pull lifts to get in and out of the pool and accessible cabanas. 

Royal Caribbean will give leftover cruise credits as onboard credits instead

24 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean is going to stop issuing leftover future cruise credits as cruise credits to be used to book another cruise.

Travel agents were informed on Wednesday that Royal Caribbean decided it would make more sense to let clients redeeming a future cruise credit that has a leftover amount to become an onboard credit instead.

Many cruisers still have future cruise credits from the global cruise industry shutdown of 2020 and 2021 that remain unused.

In a situation where a future cruise credit is applied to a booking, but the full value is not utilized, instead of a new future cruise credit being created for the remainder balance, it will be issued as onboard credit on the cruise that they're using the cruise credits in the first place.

Ship docked in Caribbean

The announcement only applies to future cruise credits that get applied first towards the deposit of a new cruise.

Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President, Sales, Trade Support and Service at Royal Caribbean International  explained the new policy to travel agents during a webinar, "if somebody has a left over amount, we're giving them that amount now as an OBC, an onboard credit, on the cruise that they're using the FCC."

"We're not going to reissue FCC's. It's strictly going to go back as an onboard credit for the existing cruise that they're using their FCC."

Simplifying cruise credits

Royal Caribbean has been steadily simplifying the future cruise credit process for guests to ensure they can easily use the money they are owed.

As of June 1, 2022, Royal Caribbean announced all unredeemed future cruise credits (FCC) offered under the Cruise with Confidence program will no longer expire.

Royal Caribbean wants changes like this and today's change to provide more flexibility for anyone with a FCC, instead of them acting as a kind of boondoggle.

How do I redeem my credit?

Royal Caribbean has made it quite easy to redeem a future cruise credit, whether you are booking directly or with a travel agent.

The easiest way is to let your travel agent redeem it by providing them with the Certificate Number and booking ID.

Read moreTop things you didn't know travel agents can do for your cruise vacation

If you book on your own, here's how to redeem a FCC for a new booking on Royal Caribbean's website:

  1. Find the sailing that you are interested in.
  2. Select your cabin type and location.
  3. Proceed to the payment page.
  4. Enter your payment and personal information.
  5. Enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s).
    • If you are booking multiple cabins, you can enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s) for each room.
  6. Click “submit.”
  7. You will receive an email letting you know if your credit was valid.

Here’s how to redeem online for existing bookings:

  1. Visit the Redemption page.
  2. Enter your booking information.
  3. Enter your Future Cruise Credit number(s).
  4. Click “submit.”
  5. You will receive an email letting you know if your credit was valid.

Royal Caribbean increases gratuities for crew members on its cruise ships

23 Aug 2022
Matt Hochberg

After four years, Royal Caribbean is increasing the gratuity rate cruise ship passengers will pay for the service they receive from crew members onboard its ships.

Each passenger pays a daily gratuity that covers the services of the crew members they interact with the most, and this daily rate is charged automatically unless the guest pre-pays it prior to the cruise.

As of September 7, 2022, the automatic daily gratuity charge will increase:

  • Standard cabin (Junior Suites and below) going from $14.50 to $16.00 per day, per person
  • Suite gratuity rate will change from $17.50 to $18.50 per day per person

Royal Caribbean last raised gratuities January 2, 2018.

The daily gratuities are shared among dining, bar & culinary services staff, stateroom attendants and other hotel services teams who work behind the scenes.

Royal Caribbean stipulates in the unlikely event that a guest onboard being charged the daily automatic gratuity does not receive satisfactory service, the guest may request to modify the daily amount at their discretion by visiting Guest Services onboard up until the morning of their departure.

Mariner of the Seas docked in CocoCay

For new reservations, the adjusted gratuity amounts are effective as of September 7, 2022.

Guests who booked prior to September 7, 2022 can opt to prepay gratuities prior to sailing to take advantage of the current rates. On or after September 7, 2022, regardless of when the booking was created, gratuities paid while onboard are subject to the new, increased rates.

Pre-existing bookings confirmed prior to September 7th , 2022 will not be subject to the increased guidelines as long as gratuities are paid in advance of sailing. Should guests opt not to pay gratuities until onboard, they will be subject to the newly suggested gratuity amounts.

This automatic gratuity does not cover other onboard purchases. A 18% gratuity is automatically added to all beverages, mini bar items, and spa & salon purchases.

Other cruise lines already made similar changes

NCL logo on side of ship

Other major cruise lines already increased their gratuities this year.

In April 2022, Carnival Cruise Line raised their gratuities to $14.50 per person, per day for standard staterooms and $16.50 per person, per day for suites.

Norwegian Cruise Line also raised their gratuities in April, when they changed their rates:

  • Balcony and lower cabins: $16.00 per person, per day
  • Haven and Suite guests: $20.00 per person, per day
  • Club Balcony Suite guests remains at $18.00 per person, per day

In July, Disney Cruise Line increased their gratuities to $14.50 per night, per person for standard rooms and $15.50 per night, per person for suite guests.

How gratuities work on a cruise

Wonder of the Seas Live Blog - Day 1 - Embarkation | Royal Caribbean Blog

If you do absolutely nothing, then you can expect an automatic charge on your SeaPass account each day of the cruise.

The exception is in certain markets where tipping is not as ingrained as part of their culture, so Royal Caribbean includes daily gratuities as part of the price of the cruise.  This occurs in the Australian cruise market.

Each guest, regardless of age, will be assessed the daily gratuity as recognition for the hard work crew members do each day.

An alternative is to pre-pay the gratuity before the cruise begins.  When this opted into by the guest, then you'll pay the full gratuity amount before the cruise begins at final payment date.  It will show up as a line item on your final payment.

Pre-paid gratuities can be added to an individual reservation at any time outside of 48 hours of the sail date.

Wonder of the Seas aerial rear night

Guests that booked directly with Royal Caribbean can pre-pay gratuities by calling 866-562-7625 or logging into before their sailing.

Guests that booked through a travel agent can request their agent add pre-paid gratuities to the guests' booking prior to sailing.

More info: